Immokalee native unveils bust at Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
immokalee high school
Credit: WINK News

A football player made his way from Southwest Florida to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Edgerrin James unveiled his bust during an induction ceremony Saturday.

James is from Immokalee and his career led him to this proud moment when his name was called in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I am forever immortalized. Locked up in the Canton Correctional Institution, Inmate No. 336 in the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” he said during his induction speech.

He played college football for the Miami Hurricanes and then went to the NFL. There, he played for the Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. But his football career began in Immokalee.

Israel Gallegos was James’ coach in the ’90s when he played for the Immokalee Indians. “He came from a small town, small school and now he’s at, you know, what you would say the pinnacle of a sports career to end up in the Hall of Fame.”

Gallegos was not surprised to see James on the stage Saturday night. “Anytime he was on the field, he was the most dominant player, you know? And, you know, as time goes on and you watch high school kids play go, ‘you know what? That’s an NFL player.'”

For years, James proved himself, even when he thought no one was watching. Gallegos said that one day, James showed up and just started running.

“He just started running hundreds. Back-and-forth, very back-and-forth, back-and-forth. There’s so many that we lost count. I thought, you know, kid’s going to do about 10 of these, I mean, and that’s just a commitment to his work ethic.”

Gallegos appreciated James’ potential for success even then. “He really wanted to make a statement and he did.”

Now, football fans everywhere can appreciate him. “My career started with gold teeth and ended with this gold jacket. Goodnight and God bless,” James said during his speech Saturday.

James mentioned Immokalee during the Hall of Fame event. Gallegos says that brought him a sense of joy and pride to know James still remembers what this small town meant to him.

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